There is a need to “redeem communication” from dis-information and scandal, Pope Francis said to participants in the 11th General Chapter of the Society of Saint Paul, whom he received in audience on Saturday morning, 18 June, in the Consistory Hall. The Holy Father consigned his prepared speech to those present (see page 6) and improvised his discourse. The following is a translation of his impromptu remarks.
Thank you for your words, thank you all for this visit, thank you!
Here is the discourse that I should say… But why waste time saying this, since you will read it later, isn’t that right? It seemed better to me to give it to your General, then he can share it with you — if he believes that to be appropriate. If not, he can censor it! Besides, it seems to me that to communicate with you this way, fraternally, with the warmth of encounter, is better than the coldness of a speech.
And you are apostles of communication. There’s a lot that can be said about the theology of communication. God’s passion is to communicate himself. He always communicates: with the Son in the Spirit, and then to us. To communicate is one of the things that is more than a profession: it is a vocation. And Father Alberione wanted to emphasise this through the various so-called Pauline Families — that of communicating. To communicate in a clean way. And you have the vocation to communicate in a clean way, evangelically. If we consider today’s means of communication, cleanness is missing, honesty is missing, completeness is missing. Dis-information is the order of the day: one thing is said, but many others are hidden. We must make sure that this does not happen, that this does not take place in our communication of the faith, that our communication comes specifically from our vocation, from the Gospel, crisp, clear, witnessed with one’s own life.
Not only to communicate, but also to redeem communication from the state it is in today, in the hands of an entire world of communication that either tells half the story, or where one part slanders the other, or where one part offers scandals on a silver platter because people like to eat up scandals, that is, to eat filth. Isn’t this true? This is the way it is. Communication — that relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is the sign of the Trinity — becomes this indigestible, dirty, unclean meal. Your vocation is that communication be done cleanly, clearly, simply. Do not neglect this; it is very important!
It is not a profession. Sure, there are professional communicators among you. That’s fine. But before a profession, it is a vocation, and vocation gives you identity. I understand your identity from your vocation. In other words, God calls you to this. I do not care what you called yourself before I called you. He calls you; you have your identity. David’s prayer, that prophetic awareness: “You were taken from the flock”, from there. Your identity does not come so much from the flock but from the call that took you from the flock. Do not forget the flock so that the “fumes” do not fill your head because you are someone important, you have become a Monsignor, a cardinal…. None of this, no, this is useless. Cleanness is necessary, that is, where I come from, reality. And God always communicates himself through reality. Make sure that your life is truly the communication of your vocation, so that none of you has to hide his own vocational identity. The first thing that a communicator communicates is him or herself, without wanting to, perhaps, but it is him or herself. “This person speaks about this issue…” but how he or she speaks is important: clear, transparent. It is that person who is speaking. This is originality. In this sense, communicators are “poets”. This is the “poetry” of communicating well.
Go onward with clean communication — even in your Chapter, communicate well among yourselves. There are always difficulties to communicate well, and in communication there is always some danger of transforming reality. One person tells a story, communicates it to someone else, this person communicates it to this person, to that other one and that other one and so on. And when it comes back again, it is like Little Red Riding Hood that begins with the wolf wanting to eat Little Red Riding Hood and ends up being Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother who eat the wolf. No, this does not work! Bad communication deforms reality.
Thank you for your vocation to communicate in the Church. Go onward with this. The Church needs this. I thank all of you very much. Courage and onward! Pray for each other. The unity of the Congregation will be your strength to communicate well. And pray for me too: I am asking for alms, thus we shall go ahead. Alright! Thank you!